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BookTok Review: I Read ACOTAR So You Don’t Have To!

I spent two weeks reading the popular book series A Court of Thorns and Roses to find out if it was worth the BookTok Hype.

The A Court of Thorns and roses trilogy laid out on a wooden background.
Credit: Shutterstock/Hamdi Bendali

The book series ACOTAR gained popularity due to its spicy undertones, fast-paced action, thrilling romance, and strong female lead. But is this BookTok recommendation worth the hype?

I read all 3 books in 2 weeks, and here’s the verdict.

BookTok is a place full of rich recommendations that have influenced reading and supported new author content in recent years.

 One of the most noteworthy book series taking the popular social media platform by storm is Sarah J. Maas’ ACOTAR.

This 5-book series is split into two. The original trilogy has books 1-3:

  1. A Court of Thorns and Roses (ACOTAR)
  2. A Court of Mist and Fury (ACOMF)
  3. A Court of Wings and Ruin (ACOWR)

These books are followed by A Court of Frost and Starlight and A Court of Silver Flames.

I started my journey with ACOTAR.

Warning: there are mild spoilers throughout.

A Court of Thorns and Roses: 3 Stars

A Court of Thorns and Roses fantasy novel in a bookshop on a stack of two other books.
ACOTAR Bookstack. Credit: Shutterstock/Hamdi Bendali

Imagine If Beauty and the Beast had a Twilight spinoff but with a toxic male as the love interest.

This is ACOTAR.

Prepare yourself to leave with an entirely new vocabulary of words and have the phrase “my bowels turned watery” permanently ingrained in your mind.

The premise of this book was exciting — a fresh new fantasy that should have had a strong female character.

But ultimately, it ended up being a book in which Feyre, our main character, forgave and then subsequently fell in love with her kidnapper because he gave her some paints.

Yep, you read that correctly.

Now, this all may be a little bit confusing, so let’s go through the main parts of the book and why it ended up receiving such a mid-level rating from me.

Before we dive in, here are some things you should know.

High fae are an immortal race that are often described as dangerous and live on the northern side of the world in a place named ‘Prythian.’

Prythian is divided into the seasonal courts: Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter, and the solar courts: Dawn, Day, and Night.

The Plot

The main issue was the confusing and often problematic character development.

Feyre is the only reason her family has survived following the loss of their wealth. She is the sole provider for her father and two sisters Nesta and Elain, becoming a huntress to supply meals and money and frequently doing so without a thank you in return.

Guided by a deep hunger and desperation to support her family, Feyre enters the woods one night on a hunt and takes down a large wolf. However, this wolf is a high fae male (who we later find out wasn’t in those woods by accident!)

Due to Feyre’s murder of the wolf, she is hunted down by another high fae named Tamlin, who turns out to be the high lord of spring. For the death of his friend, he offers her two choices: death or a return to Prythian.

And with that, Feyre heads to Prythian.

She is told that she may roam Prythian as she pleases (a place that is pretty much a death trap for mortals), but she must not flee to the mortal world. She meets a Redhead male named Lucien who is much more charismatic and interesting than Tamlin and learns the secrets of the fae world.

Armed with these secrets, she works to help fight the blight threatening the magic in Prythian and falls deeply in love with Tamlin in the process. She also meets a mysterious male named Rhysand who makes a bargain with her (important for later).

In a shocking turn of events, she becomes Prythian’s very own Katniss Everdeen and completes three trials to save the courts from Amarantha, a bloodthirsty villain. Of course, as the mere mortal she is, she loses her life on the third trial.

But her death is not the end. There are 4 more books, for crying out loud! So naturally, she is resurrected as a high fae by all the 7 fae lords — a thank you to her for saving the magic.

And thankfully, that is the end of book one.

This book was about 100 pages too long, which unfortunately seems to be the theme for the other 2 books.

The ending and her battles throughout the book were upbeat and exciting. However, for me, ACOTAR suffered from lacklustre worldbuilding and character development, as well as a mild theme of Stockholm syndrome.

A Court of Mist and Fury: 4 Stars

A Court of Mist and Fury fantasy novel in a bookshop on a stack of two other books.
ACOMF Bookstack. Credit: Shutterstock/Hamdi Bendali

The best way to describe this book is that Feyre turns into Jack-Jack from The Incredibles and finally grows a backbone.

BookTok has praised A Court of Mist and Fury as being the best book in the series, and I can understand why.

Whilst it didn’t rate top out of the three I read, it was notably more interesting than the first book.

Maas introduces the found family trope in this book, with Feyre finally finding a healthy love not only in her romantic relationships but also within her platonic ones.

 She begins to learn and heal from the atrocities she faced in the first book, honing her newfound powers.

If you’ve read the first book and are deciding if you should continue, I would urge you to. Everything that didn’t sit right in the first book makes sense in the second one.

This book left me wondering if all the things that caused me severe anger reading the first book were setting me up to enjoy the second.

Whilst I am not a fan of spicy books, this one was higher up on the Scoville scale than ACOTAR. Beware younger readers, this one may not be for you!

In ACOMF, Feyre still feels the need to rely on a man, despite being one of the most powerful beings in Prythian. But she is far more lovable, perhaps due to her new friends. So, here’s to female power and Maas creating characters that aren’t insufferable!

This book focused more on developing the characters. And whilst I felt that the plot progression was slow and could have been condensed into a much shorter book, I couldn’t help but love the inner circle that’s introduced in the night court.

The first 70 pages of ACOMF felt like staring at a brick wall. After the action that ended ACOTAR, I was hoping to jump right into that excitement with this book, but the beginning chapters fell flat for me.

Nonetheless, this book was a significant improvement on ACOTAR and left me excited for number 3.

A Court of Wings and Ruin: 5 Stars

A Court of Wings and Ruin fantasy novel in a bookshop on a stack of two other books From the ACOTAR series by Sarah J. Maas
ACOWR Bookstack. Credit: Shutterstock/Hamdi Bendali

ACOWF is the final book in the original trilogy, centred around the war and preparation for it. This book was far more plot-driven and exciting than ACOMF, which in my opinion makes it the best of the series.

That’s not to say there were no insufferable moments. For example, Feyre refers to Rhysand as her ‘Mate,’ a term used by high fae when they have a spiritual connection with someone – their version of a soulmate.

 Now, you might think well, that can’t be too bad. But trust me, it is horrendous. Despite Feyre being a human for most of her life, she uses this term all the time!

Another source of criticism pertains to Feyre’s new role in the night court, where it feels as though she is a little too…comfortable with the characters.

Now you may note that I mentioned in the last book about the found family aspect. It is beautifully transferred into this book, showing us the complex relationships within the night court.

This may be because I read the books back to back, but in my mind, Feyre pretty much just met the people of the court — people who have known each other for HUNDREDS of years! Yet she somehow has just as close a relationship with them as they have with each other. For me, it felt forced, and I would’ve loved to have seen more of those relationships form.

Despite these gripes, the book created a masterful portrayal of fantasy, action, and love — everything I had hoped this series would be. Unlike book two, it jumped straight into a gripping storyline, and even in the slower moments it kept me invested.

We also got a further exploration into Nesta and Elaine’s characters, which I appreciated. Again, this book was a little spicier than the others, so please keep that in mind when entering this story!

Was It Worth It?

Even considering my criticisms, I think the overall series was brilliant — gripping at some parts and gut-wrenching at others.

But the beautiful thing about book preference is that everyone is different.

If you enjoy fantasy, romance, enemies to lovers and found family, then you will enjoy this series.

There is flowery writing, which means some of the chapters are longer. The upside is that Maas demonstrates an incredible attention to detail.

@therealrahulrai

I get it….honestly i get it now #acotar

♬ original sound – ARIA_92

In my opinion, it’s a worthwhile read!

What To Know Before You Read

Please note there are some trigger warnings you may need to be aware of if you decide to embark on this fantastical fae journey.

Themes such as sexual assault and violence play a large part, so make sure to research that before you dive in.

Whilst this may not have been everyone’s taste, it sure was mine! And I hope it is for you if you decide to take the plunge into the Prythian universe.

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Hi I'm Charlotte, I'm currently a university student studying towards my journalism degree, but in my spare time I love all things bookish or musical.

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